Basketball Scotland’s Future Starz programme has made considerable strides in its first full year since replacing the previous Talent Development Programme for young, aspiring enthusiasts of the fast-paced sport.
During the 2011-2012 season, the skills-based initiative enrolled 240 players ranging from ages 11 to 14 across the country’s six regions. This term will see that figure increase to 300, with applications for trials onto the programme also up by almost one third.
Both Edinburgh West and East regions have proved extremely popular with high participation figures. Roddy Gordon, who runs sessions at Gracemount High School as lead coach for the Edinburgh East section, is hugely encouraged by the programme. “The sessions have been very successful and we’re seeing the best players that Scotland can come by,” said Gordon. “The East and West Edinburgh sessions are well packed out. Last year, I think we had about nine from the East section who went on to represent Scotland at different age groups for both boys and girls, which I think is wonderful.
“The kids are loving the programme. Sometimes they think it is really hard work, but you have to push them. This is the way forward and we’ve got to get them involved early. Instilling the dedication and passion is what we are trying to do and the feedback has been great. At the end of the sessions, the kids say they are tired but still want to carry on and do more which is great.”
With the drills heavily focused on player development – which includes passing, dribbling and shooting, not to mention improving their physical attributes such as speed, power and agility – individual goals are set for each player to assist with motivational targets over the course of the sessions.
The national governing body’s Player Development manager Luis Romero is thrilled with the progress since the programme’s inception in October 2011.
Romero said: “The success of the programme can be measured in different ways. For example, 63 per cent of last year’s Under-14 Future Starz players are now playing National League at Under-16 level. Then looking at the progress from Future Starz to National Development squads, the Under-12 boys were undefeated in the International Basketball Festival in Gothenburg where they came up against Swedish, Danish and Latvian opposition.
“On the girls’ front, 50 per cent of players from the Under-15 Scotland National Development squad were players from Under-14 Future Starz and the team also won the San Marino International tournament last July, so we have an aim of increasing the depth of young players in the pathway.”
With the programme engineered to aid the development of 11 to 14-year-olds, an opportunity to compete in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will prove too early for any Future Starz students to make the grade. However, there is hope within Basketball Scotland that the same event in the Gold Coast, Australia in 2018, is a realistic target.
Romero added: “With the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the horizon, we’re using Future Starz to develop our young players by giving them an incredible opportunity to improve their footwork, fitness and movement.
“Scotland’s young people have great potential and Future Starz helps to reinforce the work that our players are already doing at their clubs.”